The Future of Education is in Several Languages
Approximately 66% of the world’s population is proficient in at least two languages (while only 17% of Americans are bilingual) and one-third of all corporations in the U.S. are either owned or based abroad. There are over 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, and English is only one of them. It is becoming increasingly necessary to know more than one language, and this change in our society must start in our education system.
The benefits of multilingualism
Multilingualism, which includes bilingualism, is the ability to speak more than one language. There are many benefits to being multilingual:
- Become a global asset
A majority of people in the world speak more than one language. Therefore, multilinguals have more job opportunities and opportunities for advancement. Multilinguals also have an easier time traveling, as they are able to communicate with the local people on a deeper level.
- Increase cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, creativity, and memory
Learning another language has been shown to increase critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It has also been shown to increase creativity, possibly because you are seeing the world in new ways as you learn a different language and a different perspective. Unsurprisingly, learning another language also promotes increased memory because of the memorization skills you employ when learning something new.
- Greater appreciation for the heritage and culture of others
When you learn another language, you are also learning about the culture and heritage related to that language. Language influences the way people think and act, and thus is integral to culture. Becoming more culturally aware and appreciative of diversity is invaluable.
- Develop empathy for others
For many people, learning another language can prove rather difficult. Learning a language is a process that requires patience and effort. During this learning process, you may develop increased empathy for others who are also struggling to learn certain things, be it English or Chemistry.
- Learn new languages more easily
Learning any language beyond your native language helps you learn additional languages more quickly. You’ll start seeing patterns and themes that are present in all languages, and you will learn each subsequent language more quickly than the last.
Promoting multilingualism in education
The skills gained when learning a new language are skills that we wish for our nation’s students to attain. We want our students to have a greater appreciation for diversity, to be more empathetic toward their peers, and to have stronger critical thinking skills. We want them to be successful global citizens.
With the rise of technology, the world is getting smaller. Now more than ever, we must promote multilingualism in our schools. We can start doing this by increasing the effectiveness of bilingual education programs (which have been shown to help close the achievement gap between native English speakers and ELL’s) and creating linguistically inclusive classrooms in which all students are encouraged to share about their home languages and cultures without fear of ridicule.
The time has come for education to adapt to the changing world. The way to accomplish this is through multilingual education.